BLACKSVILLE — Clay-Battelle took the court a year ago with a group of undersized and inexperienced basketball players.
It didn’t stop the Cee-Bees from tallying 16 wins. This time, Clay-Battelle has a bit more experience on its side.
“Last year, we were young, and we still look that way on paper,” head coach David Joyce said. “But we have four returning starters.”
Joyce said his returnees are proficient scorers, and he expects a big season in offensive production from those players.
“I have my top four scorers back, including a couple 1,000 point-caliber seniors,” he said.
The Cee-Bees’ starting five is paced by a talented senior duo in senior guards Abbey Ammons and Haley Barr, whose presence is expected to help the Cee-Bees efficiently command the flow of the game.
“Abbey Ammons and Haley Barr are our senior captains, and they can manage a game very effectively,” Joyce said.
The dynamic seniors will be complemented by a pair of talented underclassmen in Alisha Keener and Rylee Burnette. Keener is expected be a force in the paint at the power forward spot; Burnette’s speed on the wing will help the Cee-Bees get up and down the floor and control the pace of the game.
“Burnette and Keener will carry a good bit of the additional load,” Joyce said.
Despite the increased experience level, age will still likely be a deciding factor in many contests for Clay-Battelle, as six of the eight team members are freshmen and sophomores — many not even old enough to drive.
Size is expected to once again be an issue for the Cee-Bees as well. However, Joyce believes his girls may be able to use their size to their advantage, creating haphazard match-ups that allow his team to slip by larger and slower athletes.
“We are going to be smaller than most of the teams we play this year,” he said. “We are going to make it their responsibility to find a way to match up with our guards.”
Overall, Joyce sees his team as talented and full of potential. He believes fans should turn out to see what they’re bringing to the table this winter.
“For fans who like the game of basketball, you should enjoy watching these girls play,” Joyce said. “It’s hard to say what my expectations are, but I expect if we bring our ‘A’ game then our opponents better too.”
The Cee-Bees open their season at home, against Hundred, at 7 p.m. Dec. 4.